Airbus A340: Making the Same Mistake Twice

It is possible to hide an aircraft in plain sight. Ask most people how many four engined aircraft Airbus has produced and the typical answer is two; the A340 and the A380. The correct answer is three, the differences between the A340-200/300 and A340-500/600 are such that they are by any standards different aircraft, despite similar appearances. Compared to the baseline A340-200/300, the A340-500/600 has: Newer, larger, heavier, more efficient and more powerful engines from a different supplier. A new wing of increased span, sweep and area. Enlarged vertical and horizontal tailplanes. Modified landing gear with extra wheels. Fuselage lengthened Continue Reading

Did Boeing Trick Airbus into the A380 with the Sonic Cruiser?

There is something of an urban legend that Boeing deliberately used the Sonic Cruiser to trick Airbus into building the A380 and pouring billions of dollars into a project that was doomed to huge costs and moderate sales. I came across it most recently doing an online Strategic Management course from the Copenhagen Business School. The course director, Robert Austin, mentioned it as a classic example of a strategic ploy by one company to trick another, despite it by his own admission not having been confirmed by either side. Which got me thinking, could it be really true? The Case for Continue Reading

Dassault Mercure: The Right Range in the Wrong Plane

In 1967 aircraft manufacturer Dassault, with support from the French government, embarked on the design and construction of a new narrow-body airliner to compete with the American Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliners. When the first prototype flew four years later, it could carry 20 passengers more than the Boeing 737 despite using the same engines. The aircraft seemed well-placed to become a serious European competitor in the short-haul market, fifteen years before the Airbus A320 first flew. Instead the Mercure was one of the greatest commercial failures in aviation history. Dassault managed to sell only eleven aircraft (including Continue Reading